We’ve been reading Phoenix Rising by Karen Hesse. Set on a sheep farm in Vermont, I’ve always worked to build background knowledge for students. This year we’ve watched videos of border collies herding sheep and I’m hoping to bake bread with students within the coming weeks. However, just yesterday, we were honored to have Mrs. McNeil come and share information about her sheep. She brought photos, books, fleece, roving, yarn, her spinning wheel and several products made from the wool of her sheep. It was fantastic! Students were able to feel the lanolin on the fleece and compare it to the roving that was already washed, carded and neatly rolled.
It was terrific watching students step up and use the carding paddles themselves or take a turn spinning. Most of them said it was much harder than it looked! Having timed the reading so that students were reading the chapters where our main characters, Nyle and Muncie, have just gathered pulled wool from fences and were carding and spinning it, I think they were able to understand it far better than if they hadn’t had this experience. Thank you, Mrs. McNeil for sharing your wealth of knowledge!